It is often thought that once a student enters the postgraduate realm, they begin to focus on a single path of study, tending to ignore other aspects of academia. As an undergraduate, I double majored in Economics and Music, two disparate fields of study that convinced me working on both empirical and qualitative work was the most productive way to produce meaningful research. The Lancaster University Postgraduate Fulbright award placed me in an academic environment where I could continue to work as an interdisciplinary scholar.
Fulbright provided me the opportunity to view academia from a different perspective. The USA and the UK have more differences than many people may first think. The United Kingdom thinks about social issues in a different way, and I am thankful to finally see another perspective on many of the same problems I studied in the US. Now that I have spent some time studying in the UK, I would describe the USA's approach to thinking about social issues as "efficient." We often ask ourselves, "what is the cheapest way to deal with this issue" and "what do the numbers tell us."
Everything I did as an undergraduate was very quantitative and driven by data because in the US that is often the only way anyone will take your research seriously; it is very clean, cut, and dry. However, I have encountered a more holistic approach to social issues in the UK. I now ask myself, "who is really impacted by these issues, and are they given a voice in trying to fix it?"
Of course there are cultural differences too. One real thing that has struck me, is my friends' attitudes toward work. In the US, I grew up in a culture of ‘grinding’. I know people who work 80, 90, or even 100 hour weeks. People in the UK seem much less inclined to accept those hours and are more focused on other aspects of their life such as traveling, personal time, and time with family. I often joke that it's ironic: my UK friends say that they perceive Americans as lazy (though they admit it is just a stereotype), yet they also make fun of us for how hard we work and our terrible work-life balance. It may sound small, but when you've grown up in a culture of work-work-work and suddenly are surrounded by people who are telling you "no, it's ok to relax a bit," it does come as a shock!
Lancaster was incredibly welcoming and I made a lot of connections in the UK. I quickly made friends with my flat mates and joined the swim team. The swim team hosts socials every Wednesday, and I often got to hang out with people on the weekends as well. I know that if I wanted to meet more people, I could easily sign up for another club or volunteer opportunity.
I’m going on to work as an Associate Consultant at Bain & Company which houses a large London office. I hope to work in London one day, spending time with the friends I have made here and meeting new people.
If you’re applying to Fulbright, it is important to remember that at its core, the Fulbright is a diplomatic mission. Think about what ways you might engage with the community regardless of where you are applying. Engagement with the local community, above all else, is what a Fulbrighter strives for.Back to News